by Jordan Adams - 03/30/2006
This NBA season has showcased countless stars, but the lack of parity displaces half the candidates for Most Valuable Player consideration. We have heard the classic debate of whether or not a player can deservingly be given his league's MVP award despite his team's poor record. But if there is an argument, it is one-sided. If you want to win the NBA MVP award, you better get your team to at least the conference finals. Over the last 15 years, 14 of the MVP winners were from teams that advanced to the conference finals or beyond.
Bodog currently lists betting odds for 12 candidates for the MVP award, eleven of which are likely heading to the NBA Playoffs in June. In November, when the 2006 season was young, it could be assumed that all of these contenders had a legitimate shot to come away with the hardware. But this is not the Fall any longer. We head to into the final month of the season and three hoopers stand out and their individual prop odds reflect that.
Last year's MVP, Steve Nash, is getting the most respect, labeled as the favorite at 1/2 odds to hoist the trophy for the second consecutive year. The best in the game at his position, this heralded point guard has led his Suns back from last year's success that was labeled skeptical and likely to back-to-back Pacific Division titles. Without the services of Amare Stoudemire for practically the entire season, Nash has carried a completely different Phoenix lineup from last year and virtually locked up the No. 2 seed in the West while all the hype has been spotlighted on San Antonio and Dallas. His chances bode well as the Suns seem to be cruising to the playoffs.
Always overlooked and unappreciated with many frontcourt stars in the West, Dirk Nowitzki has captained the Dallas Mavericks to a remarkable 54-17 record thus far and his team is sitting one game out from the top seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Playing on an explosive squad, Dirk has had arguably his best professional year yet, putting up 26 ppg and a shade under 9 rpg. He is listed at 5/1 odds to win this season's MVP. While his odds are second to Nash, winning the division title and having the No. 1 seed in the West would be to his benefit and would certainly enhance his chances. And since the award is not given until after the season concludes, if his Mavs can advance further then Nash's Suns and the Spurs, it would tough not to award him the MVP.
Nash and Nowitzki are 1-2, but two others are worth noting. Detroit's Chauncey Billups and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant. The Pistons have played the best ball throughout the season and Billups is their true leader. His odds are 7/1 to win, but the Detroit Pistons exemplify team basketball better then any team since the 80s. Therefore, would it make sense to give the most prized individual award to a player on a balanced and well-deserving team? Not likely.
It's tough to discuss team basketball when talking about the Los Angeles Lakers. So let's just talk about Kobe. His abilities are simply ridiculous, but how can you argue for him to win the MVP award when his team loses almost half its games? How can he be the league's most valuable when his team is not consistently helped by his play? It's interesting to note that Bryant has actually been given the second best odds by Bodog at 3/2, but his team's uncertainty of making the playoffs is enough to wipe him from consideration. Even if they make the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, they could get bounced in the first round.
If the Suns, Mavericks and Pistons have success in the playoffs, this could be one of the closest races we have witnessed in years. There will certainly be no clear-cut winner at the end of the regular season. The wild card would then come down to which team plays better in the NBA's second season, dictating who comes away with this year's award.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's NBA picks service.